I’ve heard this comment a lot and before I answer this with scientific info, I want to share some personal info: I used to work in Risk Management for a government agency and from my experience in protecting the welfare of the population I can honestly say this: There is no way in hell the government would be recommending and setting up clinics for the general population if the vaccine wasn’t safe. Could you imagine the legal implications if the vaccine was NOT safe?
- The companies making H1N1 flu vaccine have been making seasonal flu vaccines for years and have good track records of safety. They are working alongside government bodies that will fund the complicated safety reviews needed for the swine flu vaccine.
- Primarily, the safety trials are looking for side effects such as allergic reactions and something called “oculorespiratory syndrome,” which would likely show up within a few days of administration and in relatively small numbers. At this point, at least 200,000 people have received a Canadian form of the vaccine worldwide.
(The information presented here on down is from the CTV News website, which CTV has obtained with the help of infectious disease expert Dr. Neil Rau – I’m presenting it here because I trust it as a reliable source)
What is an adjuvant and why is Canada using one?
An adjuvant is a chemical additive used in some vaccines to ramp up the response the immune system generates to a vaccine. Adjuvants aren’t new in Canada; they’re already used in pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines, for example.
With an adjuvant, less pure vaccine antigens are needed, so one dose of vaccine can be stretched into four doses. An adjuvant boosts immune response so that recipients are more likely to develop antibodies to the swine flu virus. It also makes the immune response more “durable,” so it lasts longer, and it creates a wider response, so that if the swine flu virus “drifts” or changes, this vaccine should still offer some protection.
Adding the adjuvant made the Canadian version of the pandemic vaccine different enough from seasonal flu vaccine in its design that a new licence was required and more clinical trials were needed to assess safety.
GSK says its vaccine contains its own proprietary adjuvant system, called AS03. It is a based on squalene, an organic compound obtained from fish oil and mixed with water and vitamin E that is safe, despite Internet-based rumours to the contrary.
What is Squalene?
The adjuvant used in the swine flu vaccine is made with vitamin E, water and squalene derived from shark liver. Squalene is an organic substance found in all humans; our bodies use it to synthesize sterols – such as cholesterol — and steroids. It is also found in all animals, plants, and a variety of foods, cosmetics, and medicines.
Some websites have linked squalene to the anthrax vaccines to Gulf War Syndrome, but those allegations have been shown to be false. Squalene was never used in the vaccines. And while anti-squalene antibodies were found in some of those with Gulf War Syndrome, they are also found in the blood of people who have never received a vaccine containing squalene.
Over 22 million doses of squalene-containing vaccines have been administered around the world, mostly in adults. “The absence of significant vaccine-related adverse events following this number of doses suggests that squalene in vaccines has no significant risk,” says the World Health Organization.
Is there Mercury in the Swine Flu Vaccine?
The flu vaccine contains a small amount of thimerosal. That’s because the vaccine is delivered in multi-dose vials, so needles are inserted into the vial more than once to extract doses. For that reason, all flu vaccine bottles (seasonal and swine flu) contain small amounts of thimerosal as a preservative.
Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative, but it’s made of the ethylmercury, which is organic, not methylmercury, which has been linked to neurological damage.
The levels of ethylmercury in vaccines are minute and have not been shown to cause harm, says the Public Health Agency of Canada. It’s estimated that there is four times as much mercury in a can of tuna fish than in the thimerosal in the H1N1 flu vaccine.
I Feel the Vaccine is Safe – But the Choice is Yours
Alright – so those are the facts from one of the leading television and news agencies in Canada – I’ve shared the information with you because I trust it. For me it answers a lot of my questions regarding the safety of the vaccine, but like I said in my previous post – vaccination is a personal choice, I’m just providing you with information so you can make an informed choice. (In other words – don’t shoot the messenger).
If you would like more information about H1N1, and why you should protect yourself, and your loved ones, please see my post: Protecting Against H1N1 – It’s Not Just About You.